Elsa Partan

Producer for Living Lab

Elsa Partan is a producer for Living Lab Radio. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.
 

Ways to Connect

Amy Aprill, WHOI

Cuba is home to some of the Caribbean’s most pristine coral reefs, in part because of the lack of tourism. As President Obama began normalizing relations with Cuba, Amy Apprill began working with Cuban scientists to study their reefs. Now, for the first time, a joint Cuban-American expedition has delved into the highly protected Gardens of the Queen reefs. But political tensions make the future of the work uncertain.

The North Atlantic right whale is Massachusetts’ state marine mammal, and a New England icon. Once hunted to the brink of extinction, the species is again in danger. There are only about 450 individuals remaining, the numbers are declining, and this year was particularly deadly. A leading researcher says that, under current conditions, North Atlantic right whales are just two decades away from extinction. But he says there are technologies and policies that could change that.

The influenza virus can kill tens of thousands of Americans in any given year. And this year’s flu season looks like it could be a doozy. Infection rates are higher than they were at this time in recent years, and the strain that hit the southern hemisphere caused record hospitalizations and deaths in Australia. One problem: although the virus strain that scientists selected for the vaccine was the correct one, it mutated once it was put into eggs. Researchers say this kind of situation highlights the need for a universal flu vaccine.

A protest this weekend at the site of a proposed natural gas power generator on the Cape Cod Canal highlights the controversy surrounding the rise of natural gas. Some say it’s an improvement over other fossil fuels, and a necessary bridge to a more renewable energy system. Others say it’s still a fossil fuel, and we should be investing in solar instead.

Teen depression rates jumped thirty three percent between 2010 and 2015, while suicide attempts rose by almost a quarter. Psychologist Jean Twenge of San Diego State University has sifted through the various possible explanations and says only one factor explains the abrupt shift in American teens’ mental health – smart phones.

Scientists are working to expand the genetic code.
Duncan Hull / flickr.com

Autumn Oczkowski made headlines earlier this month, not for her science, but for the fact that EPA leadership told her she couldn’t present that science at a conference about the future of Narragansett Bay. EPA leadership never said why they made that decision, but many assumed it was because climate change would be a major theme. A week later, though, Oczkowski was allowed to present her research at a different conference.

David Bailey, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Food insecurity and climate change are affecting millions of people today. Some experts say ocean farming (aquaculture) could help address both of those issues. On Living Lab, we talk with Scott Lindell, aquaculture researcher at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution.

NASA

An asteroid strike took out the dinosaurs. And a meteor that struck Chelyabinsk, Russia a few years ago woke the astronomy community up to the need for a better system for tracking asteroids that could affect Earth. Now, an international asteroid warning network has gotten its first test. Luckily for us all, NASA aced it. We talk with Lindley Johnson, Planetary Defense Officer for NASA. 

It’s time for your yearly flu shot. But why do we have to do this every year? Why can’t we get a flu shot once – maybe a booster now and again – and be done with it, like we do with other vaccinations? There are scientists working to accomplish just that. David Topham at University of Rochester Medical Center is on the task, but he warns that some efforts to develop a universal flu vaccine may not be as successful as hoped.

Pages